Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Fifty years ago, students with mental and physical handicaps had difficulties succeeding in primary schools, much less a college environment. It is therefore worth commending the many Boston College students who have overcome both the stigmas and challenges surrounding such disabilities in order to excel in academic and social settings.
BC, the Connors Family Learning Center, and the Office of the Dean for Student Development offer a variety of accommodations and resources that can help students succeed, but only if they ask for these resources. Students with disabilities should not feel uncomfortable going to the office and asking for the help they deserve. However, they will need the support of the rest of the BC community to feel confident in doing so.
Students who do not need accommodations must realize that students who do need them are not getting special perks or advantages. A student with a disability might be allowed to use a laptop in a class in which no other student is allowed to use one, as this results in a level playing field for learning. The students who are not allowed to use a laptop, register for classes early, or have other accommodations, have to understand that they are not being denied anything. Rather, their classmates are being given an equal opportunity to succeed.
Professors must also be understanding of the unique challenges that students with disabilities face in the classroom. When a student explains his or her situation to professors, we encourage professors to be as cooperative as possible. Instead of seeing the situation as an extra burden, please be more aware of various disabilities and the ways in which the accommodations that accompany them can be the difference between success and failure. A student should never be afraid to meet with his or her professor, especially when the meeting relates to a disability that he or she has no control over.
BC has a reputation for being a welcoming, safe environment. It is up to students and professors alike to make sure that this is true for every member of the community.